Alexander Hamilton is having a heck of a year.
The eponymous Broadway sensation is smashing all ticket-price records; now Federalist 68 is the rage.
Who would have thunk it?
Don’t know Federalist Paper No. 68? Don’t feel bad. Hamilton wrote it 218 years ago under the pen name, “Publius.” It hasn’t seen much daylight since. (Historical experts widely agree that Hamilton was “Publius,” the pseudonym also used by James Madison and John Jay.)
But with presidential electors preparing to gather tomorrow in each of the 50 states to formally make Donald Trump President-elect Donald Trump, Federalist 68, which speaks to the U.S. Electoral College, is making a rare but predictable comeback.
It’s sure to be a talking point for Never Trumpers on this weekend’s political TV talk shows; by Sunday night millions of Americans will be bantering professorially about “’ol 68” on bar stools and around dinner tables: “What Hamilton really meant . . . another Dewar’s please, Rocco. And no ice this time, OK?”
The most die-hard Never Trumpers — the liberal ones — are invoking Hamilton’s 1788 wisdom in calling on the Electoral College to void Trump’s victory last month and to elect former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton president.
As the saying goes, good luck with that.
It’s this passage in particular that’s being highlighted by the Albany Times Union editorial board, Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. and others in arguing for an Electoral College coup: The Electoral College is meant to guarantee with “a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.”
Readers of this column know I was no Trump fan during the election, but last I checked, President-elect Trump eminently meets the Constitution’s requisite qualifications for the presidency: He’s older than 35, he’s a natural-born citizen and he has resided in the United States for at least 14 years. Nothing in the Constitution says he has to be liked.
Dionne and others need to give it up. They’ve wandered squarely into pathetic territory, an area I know something about: I spent a week in July telephoning delegates at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, begging them to adopt a conscience clause into the party bylaws to sideline Trump. Needless to say, those efforts weren’t met with enormous success.
“People should know when they’re conquered,” Roman general Quintus Sertorius says in the opening scene of the 2000 film “Gladiator.” His language may be a tad dramatic applied here, but the sentiment is sound: Defeat demands a demonstration of dignity, and some measure of humility.
There will be plenty of battles for Dionne, et al., to fight in the next four years. But 2016 is over. It’s time for them to accept that, or risk further humiliation and irrelevance.
William F. B. O’Reilly is a consultant for Republicans.